Just Do It!
My biggest piece of advice about going abroad is to go abroad. Go abroad as many times as you can. Travel, a lot. I really loved my program. I feel that the NYU in Florence Campus was amazing, and I suggest it to anyone.
Now for some real advice. When packing, get a bathroom scale, and as you put stuff in your bags, weigh them. Be as realistic as possible. If there is a food, a hair product, a certain blanket that will make you a lot more comfortable in your home away from home, just bring it. I would also suggest bringing notebooks and hair-care products if you are studying abroad in Italy. I had a really hard time finding both of these items, and they ended up being a lot more expensive.
For weekend travel… Save a lot of money before you go. You will be really disappointed if all of your friends are jetting around every weekend and you have to stay home. Make sure to book flights in advance because they will cheaper, but not too far in advance. I know several people who booked a ton of flights there first week with their new friends, and soon realized those people are not good travel buddies. Make sure to bring a good small carry on bag with you, and it is good to have small bottles to fill with shampoo and soap. Also, hostels can be a great and affordable way to travel, but you can often get great deals on hotels. In several places we found that to share a hotel room was cheaper or similar in price to a hostel, plus you get towels and sheets for free. Also, check of the hostel has a curfew, some will lock you out of the building at a certain time.
Don’t save a million things for the last month. The whole semester we put off going to museums and seeing stuff in our city, and just assumed we would do it later in the trip. This lead to us missing out on a bunch of amazing experiences in and around Florence. NYU gives museum passes, so it is easy to run in and out of museums. In retrospect I should have done some research about the museums, and then split my trips up based on the art I wanted to see.
Food can be a big issue for people while abroad. I am not a very picky eater, and quickly adapted to the Italian diet. If you are less adaptable, learn how to cook some food from home before you go. Also, do some research. Florence has several stores that sell international food. We also found a place that sells iced coffee and bagels. While I do suggest taking advantage of the fabulous Italian cuisine, sometimes a taste of home can be really important. Finding markets and cooking at home can be a lot of fun, and can also save a lot of money. I tried to make going out to dinner a special occasion, and usually cooked my meals at home. Villa Natalia has a cafeteria with really amazing and cheap food. I would really suggest that for afternoons stuck on campus.
My final piece of advice is to make sure and do some stuff you never though you would do. Get out of character for a little while, enjoy yourself. It is this amazing experience you only get to do once (unless you try and do it twice, my personal philosophy). The experience is only what you make of it.